Viewability needs a broader scope

It’s a universal advertising truth that viewability matters. The Internet Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) benchmark — 50% of an ad in view for at least one second for display, two seconds for video — is considered standard for a reason: no one wants to pay for ads that aren’t seen.

Although vital, the existing viewability measure is just a snapshot of one performance area — it only tracks if ads make it to audience eyeballs. Even if brand advertisers know their ads made it to the intended destination, they have no clue how individuals responded to them. And without an understanding of what works, and what doesn’t, creative can’t be optimised.

Consequently, the industry needs to widen its field of vision and create a version of viewability that takes other things into account, like time-in-view.

What’s so great about time-in-view?

Time-in-view is an enhancement to viewability: a step up from the basic measure of ad success that looks at what ads achieve once they reach a consumer, not just their arrival.

The benefits for advertisers are obvious — they get insight into viewing habits, which can be used to identify ads that resonate, as well as ads that don’t, and adapt creative accordingly.  This benefits publishers and audiences too: audiences get more relevant ads that enhance their experience, and publishers get to keep revenue and audience confidence.

For example, say time-in-view measures revealed that, on average, only four seconds of a 10-second rich media ad are viewed. This would make the last six seconds redundant – not very helpful if the branding or call to action only appears in the final two seconds. When used in combination with real-time advertising platforms, such insight can be leveraged to alter ad creative as the campaign runs. In our example the ad could be reduced to four seconds, including all the critical creative elements, making it more engaging for the target audience and creating better uplift.

Rather than waiting until the end of a campaign to analyse what they should do next time, brands can pinpoint what’s most impactful now — and deliver more of it — which is definitely good news for consumers, and consequently publishers.

How publishers can use time-in-view to improve ad quality

For publishers the best way to fuel the measurement revolution is to kick-start it within their own systems by adding in time in-view. In this way they can make ‘attention’ (how long consumers spend with ads) and its role in real-time optimisation, one of the top items on the agenda for brands.

Precision is going to be essential and including time-in-view with viewability metrics will be necessary to gain a precise view of performance. Until now, there has been no feedback loop for in-flight campaign optimisation, meaning ad lengths cannot be altered to match viewing time. Smart tech that can measure this and adapt creative in the moment will be vital to ensure instant relevance.

Publishers may be feeling like they’ve been backed into a corner, but the only way to break a cycle is to effect change. By pioneering the adoption of time-in-view measurement based on quality, instead of centring efforts purely on ads to eyeballs, will empower them to please both advertisers and consumers.

By Shirley Smith, Commercial Director at wayve